There are so many classic movies based on novels that will forever remain in people’s hearts, such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Forrest Gump, Fight Club, Psycho, and many, many more. They will always hold their place as some of the best movies of all time. Yet, people are unaware of countless movies made in the early 20th century. Some of these movies have atmospheres so eerie and genuine that they have the ability take you back to their time. Adaptations don’t always do a book the justice it deserves, but these movies are classics that need more recognition. It’s incredible how movies made over 70 years ago have the ability to hold up so well to our modern scrutiny. They have managed to preserve their essence and even introduce the original texts to more modern audiences.
The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)
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Original Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Although not a novel, this short story includes sinister elements that were deemed perfect for the big screen. Released in 1928, it is a silent horror film telling the classic story of a brother and sister who live under a family curse. Some people have complained that since the short film includes no dialogue, it is both very difficult to follow and generally confusing. But familiarity with Poe’s story will definitely help you comprehend this excursion into German Expressionism, given that being slightly confusing is part of the film’s rhetorical strategy. It uses imaginative photography to tell the morbid tale of family horror in a psychological manner. It’s scarily accurate to the experience of a nightmare, using film techniques such as camera tilting and slow motion to simulate the state of mental disorientation. Before watching it, read the short story first, and experience Poe’s narrative in an extremely unique way.
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Original Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
What happens when a respectable doctor creates a potion that releases his inner demon and turns into a homicidal maniac with a lust for alcohol and women? This movie is an incredible adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel that explores the duality of human nature. Henry Jekyll believes that within each man, there exist two natures: good and evil. He is determined that through the power of science, the animal within human beings that is imprisoned by societal norms can be unleashed. He begins to experiment with drugs that he believes will unleash his primal, evil side. After his successful concoction, he turns into the grotesque Edward Hyde, an evil man unable to control his impulses. Fredric March’s performance is remarkable, as this role earned him his first Academy Award. This movie is one of the hidden gems of the 20th century, and it’s certainly one of the best book adaptations of all time.
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Original Author: Agatha Christie
The benchmark of the ‘whodunit’ narrative, Agatha Christie’s novel has been appropriately adapted in this film that oozes uneasiness and anxiety. Although the plot takes slightly different turns than in Christie’s novel, it is true to the core of her writing. Ten guests are gathered on an island by an absent host. All of a sudden, the guests get murdered one by one. They now must work together to determine who the murderer is. But who is to be trusted? It’s a masterpiece of a suspense film, as it not only poses the question of who the killer is, but also makes the audience wonder who will survive. It’s aged very well; the atmosphere is still as apprehensive as ever.
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